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Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.22.2017 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

 

Always hard to contain my enthusiasm about Tucson… The world’s largest annual gathering of mineral people and mineral specimens from around the globe never disappoints – it is a great time full of great minerals.

Santa Rita The foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains, just south of Tucson.

OK, I admit it’s also a sunny and warm break from Canadian winter. While many others in North America seem to be having a bit lighter winter than usual, we’ve had lots of snow this year in the Bancroft area. It began in November and now the snow is high. A February 2017 snowbank by our house:

SnowbankBancroft, winter 2016-17. Snowbanks about 8-9ft tall.
(For scale, Emery is a 90 lb Lab. He never misses a chance to be out in the snow.)

Tucson’s surroundings are obviously a real contrast to home, both as to weather and scenery.

SaguaroSanta Rita Mountains and a saguaro.

During the show, there is so much to see and do with the minerals and mineral friends that, in the limited time of a Tucson trip, there is precious little chance for exploring the surroundings. However, every step out in the area is worth it!

YuccaA walk in the foothills

As every year, the mineral events around Tucson are spread over many different show venues, over a few weeks. From one year to the next, dealers come and go, and move about. New shows pop up, older shows wane and sometimes disappear altogether, and then some rise again from the ashes. So, always something new and interesting to discover out there in the urban field-collecting jungle.

I thought maybe I’d start with my favourite warnings and signs from around the shows.

I didn’t take a photo of the one in my rental car, but it was a winner: every time I turned on the car,  a bright, bold electronic notice told me not to operate the car stereo while the car is operating, because it’s dangerous. (Thanks so much to the Mensa-candidate lawyer who came up with that one.)

At one show:

Washroom sign

Really???
(People do this?)

I quite liked this lawn sign:

No Lawn Signs

And at that same show, within about 40 ft of the one above:

Lawn Signs

Anyway… On to the minerals!

On the whole, there were some excellent finds, mostly of the small and isolated variety (rather than large-scale splashes of new discoveries). I’m going to start with Brazil, because over the past year, it has produced many fine specimens.

A small number of new wodginite crystals have been found. These are sharp and great for the species!

 Wodginite, Linopolis District, Divino das Laranjeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil Wodginite, Linopolis district, near Divino das Larajeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 2.5 cm

Wodginite, Linopolis District, Divino das Laranjeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Wodginite, Linopolis district, near Divino das Larajeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 2.6 cm

Wodginite, Linopolis District, Divino das Laranjeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Wodginite, Linopolis district, near Divino das Larajeiras, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 3.2 cm

If you’d like to see more of these, I’ve posted them in the Wodginite Update (click here).

The workings at Novo Horizonte have produced more excellent hematite-rutile specimens. Most of these are not in very good condition, but a few are really super.

Rutile on Hematite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil

Rutile on Hematite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 4.8 cm

Novo Horizonte has also been the subject of some additional mineral analysis, with very interesting results over the past year. One of these is a new mineral, published in 2016. The work on this mineral began with our late friend, Luiz Menezes – one of the most observant and careful people in mineral world, who never missed something new, never assumed an identification, and whose work contributed to the description of several new minerals. The work on this material was continued by a group of mineralogists, and in June 2016, the new mineral, parisite-(La), was officially regognized by the IMA. (The full group: Luiz A.D. Menezes Filho, Mario L.S.C. Chaves, Nikita V. Chukanov, Daniel Atencio, Ricardo Scholz, Igor Pekov, Geraldo Magela da Costa, Shaunna M. Morrison, Marcelo Andrade, Erico Freitas, Robert T. Downs and Dmitriy I. Belakovskiy.)

I am including a photograph of one of the best specimens – there are not many in existence. This one was available from Luisa at Luiz Menezes Minerals.

Parisite La
Parisite-(La), Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – approx. 7 cm

Just before leaving Novo Horizonte, I have a small final update. In November 2015, I had a few specimens from this locality on the website, sold to me under the label “synchysite”, and so-labeled on the website. Subsequent analysis by Don Doell has confirmed more about their identity. Having conducted semi-quantitative EDS at SGS Labs, Don found that these are in fact phosphate mineralization, and they are likely a combination of rhabdophane-(La), rhabdophane-(Ce), possibly including monazite-(Ce). They appear to be pseudomorphs after a REE carbonate, probably in the parisite group, given that this new parisite-(La) has been found at Novo Horizonte in crystals with a similar aspect and appearance, at a similar time. They could also be after bastnasite-(La), which has been described from the locality. For now, I’m labelling them rhabdophane, pseudomorph after parisite, with the proviso that the above is the technically closest identification information to date. Thanks very much to Don for this analysis! Very cool for rhabdophane. (If you’d like to see what these looked like, they are here.) Mine are all sold, but Carlos Menezes had a few thumbnail-sized specimens of this fascinating material available in Tucson.

Also from Brazil, there has been one I think will be underrated and missed by many collectors. From Mantena, Minas Gerais, there has been a find of beautiful muscovite crystals. Yes of course the mica group minerals are very common minerals, and one might be jaded and tempted to overlook them on that basis. However, it can be a challenge to acquire a genuinely good muscovite specimen. These muscovite crystals from Mantena have nice colour, giving depth and presence. I picked out the finest few I could find and they will be online in a coming update.

Muscovite, Mantena, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Muscovite on albite, Mantena, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 7.3 cm

I have always loved the blue fluorapatites from Ipira, but, although I always look for them, I am almost always disappointed. This is not because there aren’t any – it’s because very few of them are sharp and collection-worthy. The deposits mostly contain corroded-looking crystals with poor definition, and most crystals are broken crystal segments. This past year, Daniel Foscarini Almeida conducted significant mining operations in a zone that contained small, sharp crystals. Almost all had small chipping, but I went through hundreds and these best ones are extremely good. The colour with backlighting is hard to believe.

Fluorapatite, Ipirá, Bahia, Brazil

 Fluorapatite, Ipirá, Bahia, Brazil – 3.2 cm

And finally from Brazil (for now), Minas Gerais yielded some very fine phantom quartz crystals this year, from the deposits at Presidente Kubitschek. As always with Brazilian quartz, it can be very hard to find specimens in excellent condition, but some of these are just great.

Quartz with phantoms, Presidente Kubitschek, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Quartz with phantoms, Presidente Kubitschek, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Crystal 2.0 cm wide

Moving on from Brazil to the African continent next, still on the quartz theme, there was a pocket of spectacular quartz with red phantoms from Orange River, Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Red quartz has been produced from this locality for many years, however, long-time South African dealer Clive Queit told me he has never seen any he liked as much as these, because these have such distinct red phantoms enclosed in sharp, clear quartz crystals – in his view they are the best. The crystals themselves are relatively small, and my favourite specimens were the ones that had good proportions (of crystal size to the piece), so the ones I consider the best are not large specimens. They are superb.

Red Phantom Quartz, Orange River, Cape Province, South Africa

Red Phantom Quartz, Orange River, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 5.0 cm

Red Phantom Quartz, Orange River, Cape Province, South Africa

Red Phantom Quartz, Orange River, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 4.0 cm

Red Phantom Quartz, Orange River, Cape Province, South Africa

Red Phantom Quartz, Orange River, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 6.1 cm

Further north in Africa, there’s something a bit different and new from Arrondissement Diako, in Mali. We’ve seen thousands of loose single garnet crystals from here over the years, and occasionally we’ve been lucky enough to see matrix specimens. A new find, at Diabe Sira, has produced some very attractive specimens with sharp, lustrous grossular crystals on matrix. As is the case with all localities, and particularly much of the Mali material (of the various minerals), so much is damaged – the devil is in finding fine, collection-quality specimens. I worked through a lot of this material and I found a few – they are really nice!

Grossular, Diabe Sira, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Grossular, Diabe Sira, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 9.7 cm

Further north still, I think we’ve all become a bit spoiled by the constant flow of excellent mineral specimens from Morocco in recent years. So it felt like a bit of a disappointment that there wasn’t a spectacular new find, and that some of the material we’ve seen in recent times is drying up. As I mentioned in my Ste. Marie post last summer, the Sidi Lahcen barites are no more – I love those specimens, and good ones are now already hard to find (and in some cases very expensive). Speaking of production that seems to have dried up, I was also surprised that there were hardly even any signs of the Mamsa aragonites (the ones posted here last fall).  I had expected to see some of the lesser material at very least.

However, from Morocco there were some beautiful erythrites from the Bou Azzer district.

Erythrite, Bou Azzer, Tazenakht, Ouarzazate Province, Morocco

Erythrite, Bou Azzer, Tazenakht, Ouarzazate Province, Morocco – 1.3 cm crystal

China seems to have produced less in the way of truly new material. There are some new bluish-purple quartz specimens, highly priced and different dealers were giving different locality names – we’ll see what the future holds for these. From Huanggang, there were a few of the flat, discoidal calcites that made their debut last fall in Denver – here is a sweet small one.

Calcite, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China

Calcite, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China – 3.3 cm

From Russia, the mines at Dal’negorsk continue to operate and there was a new pocket of sharp datolite crystals found at the Bor Pit. These crystals are a beautiful light green and they are highly lustrous.

Datolite, Bor Pit, Dal'negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia

 Datolite, Bor Pit, Dal’negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia – 5.0 cm

As you’ll know if you’ve read my posts from the past, I love Peru and Peruvian mineral specimens. Over the years, the large polymetallic mines have produced a variety of excellent specimens, and several workings undertaken purely for mineral specimen mining have provided spectacular pieces. However, this was really not a great year for new Peruvian specimens. Ucchucchacua has now produced no new specimen material in three years, and a new piece of unfortunate news from Peru is that the Lily Mine has ceased operations. Lily was operated for copper and is known to collectors for a few minerals – chrysocolla, and most notably some of the best atacamite and clinoatacamite specimens that have been found anywhere. I obtained only a few more of these, as good specimens are already scarce, and I’m told any future production is questionable.

 Clinoatacamite, Lily Mine, Pisco Umay, Ica Dept., Peru
Clinoatacamite, Lily Mine, Pisco Umay, Ica Dept., Peru
Superb crystal group, 5 mm

In much better news, a Peruvian collection and the workings at Mundo Nuevo have provided some excellent specimens.

Pyrite and Lautite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru

Pyrite and Lautite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, La Libertad Dept., Peru – 2.9 cm

Back to North America, I was lucky to pick up a couple of nice little wulfenite specimens from the Red Cloud Mine, including this one – it’s not big, but this thing is a red window pane.

Wulfenite, Red Cloud Mine, Silver District, Trigo Mts., La Paz Co., Arizona

 Wulfenite, Red Cloud Mine, Trigo Mountains, Arizona – 2.3 cm
(Crystal 1.0 cm across, 0.8 cm on edge)

Over the coming weeks, many of these finds – and more new material – will be posted on the website, so stay tuned!

Palm

 

In the meantime, as nice as it is to have had a break, it’s so great to be home. (You can take the Canadian out of the winter but you can’t take the winter out of the Canadian – at least not this Canadian.) It’s beautiful out here in the winter woods in February, as always!

Bancroft, Ontario, Canada

Yes, the snow piles are high.

Snow Window

Another 9 ft tall snowpile. Granted, it reduces the view for a while.
And we probably shouldn’t expect this part of the garden to emerge until late May.

This year’s snow-management issues aside, it’s gorgeous and peaceful, with lots of active local residents in our woods…

 Blue Jay, Bancroft, Ontario, Canada

Blue Jay, near Bancroft, Ontario

And there’s this one guy who loves winter more than any being I’ve known:

Snow Angel

Every day from the first snows until the last snow patches are too small in spring, Emery does snow angels.

Well, that’s it, until the Rochester 2017 report.

If you haven’t yet seen them, this year’s Rochester Mineralogical Symposium program and registration materials are online here. Hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, of course these specimens will be coming online soon!

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.23.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

I love arriving back in Tucson. Urban field collecting at its finest!

TucsonSunset

There’s an excitement about the Tucson shows – we all feel it.

A bit similar to the way a the Christmas tree each year is evocative of the fun of past Christmases, in Tucson we have our ornamental orange trees in the courtyard at the Hotel Formerly Known as The Inn Suites…

Oranges

The mornings at the start of Tucson 2016 were not quite tropical.

frost

 Palm trees through the frost on the car windshield.

 However,  the Tucson sun is great and by the afternoon there’s a warm sunlight casting shadows.

Tucson 2016

So, into the car and off to the shows all over town in search of fine minerals… but can I just make a small random observation first?

Our rental car flashed this at us regularly,  throughout the trip:

CarWarning

I’m sorry, but if your brain is not already subconsciously running this question in the background for you every day, you’re gonna have issues. Waiting until a car prompts the thought is inadvisable.

OK. I’m done. On to the minerals. (It’s safe to move.)

poolsideThe courtyard mineral localities beckon…

Minerals!

There were great mineral specimens in Tucson this year and this post is just a small glimpse of a few fun things I managed to acquire. Each of the following will be the subject of an update on the website over the coming weeks.

Let’s begin with a new find of gorgeous yellow fluorites from Morocco. These are from the classic fluorite locality, the El Hammam Mine, they are unusually sharp, yellow cubes.

The hue of these fluorites varies, depending on the light source (common for fluorite), from a warmer honey-yellow under halogen, to a slightly brighter yellow in daylight and even a bit bolder under cool-temperature LED lighting. (This effect is different with each specimen, some show it more and some less).

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Field of view 4.0 cm

Upon close inspection, many of the crystals contain delicate, fine-lined purple phantoms.

Fluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, MoroccoFluorite, El Hammam Mine, Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, Morocco
Field of view 2.5 cm

This was not a large find, and I chose the best quality ones available – if you’d like to see more photos, they are in the Morocco Fluorite update (click here).

Next up is the amazing Milpillas Mine in Mexico. It’s no surprise that we are continuing to see more azurites, and a few other things are trickling out too, but this time I was particularly interested in the brochantites. There are not so many (certainly nothing like the azurites) but these are super for the species, and I found a few excellent ones available this year.

Brochantite

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – 3.9 cm

Brochantite2

Brochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico
Width of this group is 3.2 cm

A bit further away from home, there was a relatively small new find of axinite at Dalnegorsk, Russia. Of course, over the years, some beautiful axinite specimens have been found at Dalnegorsk, some have been identified as axinite-(Mn), some as axinite-(Fe), and I’m told that these ones are axinite-(Fe). As is always the case with axinite, it is incredibly difficult to obtain damage-free specimens, and most from this find did have chipping. However, a few were in superb condition!

Axinite-(Fe)Axinite-(Fe), Bor Mine, Dal’negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia
Field of view approximately 4 cm

Also from the Dalnegorsk mining complex, a newer mine has produced some wonderful new calcite specimens. The Yushnoe Mine is a newer mine and to date has produced virtually no fine mineral specimens. In 2015, a pocket of calcite crystals contained some beautiful twins. This was not a large or prolific find at all, and I found almost no specimens were undamaged, but I did find them! They show excellent twinning, with the same form as the now-classic twinned yellow calcites from the Sokolovskoe Mine, Rudniy, Kazakhstan. Beautiful!

YushnoeCalciteCalcite, Yushnoe Mine, Dal’negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia
Field of view approximately 3.5 cm

From Canada, a recent expedition to Rapid Creek, Yukon, produced some fine lazulite specimens. This is a very remote locality and collecting there is so expensive that it is rarely undertaken these days. Many specimens from the find debuted in Tucson, and we (David K. Joyce and I) acquired the finest.

Lazulite2

Lazulite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada
Largest crystal 1.5 cm

Lazulite1Lazulite with Kulanite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada – 5.7 cm

One of the great things about Tucson is of course the chance to reconnect with mineral friends and colleagues from all over the world, and sometimes they have brought some pretty amazing things along with them. Not all of these are new finds by any means, but sometimes some remarkable specimens surface in Tucson.

One such find was strontianite from an Austrian collection. Strontianite is a relatively common mineral, but great specimens are not common. Typically when we think of the mineral strontianite – let’s face it, IF we even think of it at all – we think of fuzzy-looking aggregates of tiny crystals or relatively unattractive specimens. Perhaps that’s not fair (sorry strontianite!) and there are of course exceptions, including a small number of specimens from Scotland, Illinois and the Alps. And some of the finest strontianite crystals in the world come from Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria. The crystals occur in a variety of habits, with quartz-like prisms, blocky hexagonal prisms and elongated dogtooth-style crystals. I was very happy to have found a small suite of exceptionally well-crystallized strontianites from Oberdorf an der Laming in Tucson.

StrontianiteStrontianite, Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria
Crystal 1.2 cm

Strontianite2Strontianite, Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria
Field of view approximately 3.5 cm

Strontianite3

Strontianite, Oberdorf an der Laming, Laming valley, Bruck an der Mur, Styria, Austria
Field of view approximately 2 cm

Another great thing about reconnecting with everyone in Tucson is the chance to learn from mineral friends. You know, we all end up with these specimens from all over the world, and then we take them back to our little lairs, and inevitably we have more work done on them. So there are always new finds, identifications, and re-identifications of minerals.

In Tucson this year, I learned that last year’s find of super tetrahedrite crystals at the Mundo Nuevo Mine was in fact a find of crystals of tennantite. Of a large number of specimens tested at Harvard, only one turned out to be tetrahedrite. Almost all turned out to be tennantite (a small number were intermediate, tennantite-dominant). Which is fun – they were already great tetrahedrite, but they are super for tennantite. I have a few left and although they are presumably tennantite, I have taken them off the site pending confirmatory analysis, and then they will be back on. For those of you who might not have seen them when I posted them originally, they are sharp and lustrous – here are a couple.

100740(2)(fov4.0)

Tennantite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru
Field of view 4.0 cm

100742(1)(8.2)Tennantite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru – 8.2 cm

Related to this finding, it was also discovered that there are some tennantite specimens with the rare mineral lautite on them. These are microscopic crystals and rosettes – a mineral that is rarely found at all, let alone in crystals. Here’s a photo. (By the way, Dave still has a few of these lautites available on his website – I’m including a link to them at the end of this post, if you are interested.

lautite

Lautite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion Province, La Libertad Dept., Peru
Field of view 2mm.
David K. Joyce photo.

Speaking of identifications, one find that first came to light last year has turned out to be something special. Last year you may have seen (and may even have acquired) specimens of “chrysocolla over malachite pseudomorphs after azurite” from the Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thanks to analysis conducted by Dr. Hexiong Yang at the University of Arizona, we now know they are in fact not chrysocolla, but ajoite. This is a remarkable development – ajoite has not been known in display specimens, so this is a first! (Ajoite is best known from the ajoite-included quartz crystals from Musina, South Africa).  I was very happy to be able to acquire a few of these specimens in Tucson!

Ajoite2Ajoite over Malachite pseudomorph after Azurite
Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 3.5 cm

Ajoite3

Ajoite over Malachite pseudomorph after Azurite
Luputo Mine, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Field of view 2.5 cm

Tucson Beyond the Minerals

I’ll spare you the stories of all of the great get-togethers with mineral friends, but I’d like to share a couple.

Canadian collector and dealer Ray Hill hosts fun dinners at his rented place in Tucson each year. Not only is he a great cook, but he also assembles such good groups together that it is always both interesting and a good time. The group included Ray Hill, David Joyce, John Montgomery, Marie and Terry Huizing, David Wilber and Larry Venezia. I wish I had a photo from this evening’s highlight, but it was too dark out to capture the mood without a proper camera setup. Ray had brought a portable propane campfire from Canada. (Never seen one before…) After dinner we moved outdoors… and what is a campfire without a song or two?  Many of you know that David Joyce has written, and plays and sings, great mineral songs (link at the end of this post) – so Dave brought out his guitar and we had good fun singing mineral songs around our Tucson campfire under the stars.

The other one I’d like to share is a photo from a dinner we look forward to every year, with Si and Ann Frazier, and Frank and Wendy Melanson. Always a fun evening, with good food, stories, laughs, and some mineral show-and tell, so it’s hardly a time that prompts serious reflection (!). However when I was looking at this photo afterward, I was struck by the knowledge and experience in this room. You are looking not only at five of the most knowledgeable mineral people out there, but the five people in this photograph have been responsible, directly and indirectly, for the preservation and placement of uncounted tens of thousands of the world’s fine mineral specimens into museums and private collections.

Dinner

From left to right, Si and Ann Frazier, Wendy Melanson, David K. Joyce and Frank Melanson

Although we all wish Tucson would never end, somehow it ends too soon every year…

Last Light

Last sunlight, as Tucson shadows fall

Happy to be back home, to the forest shadows…

Snowshadows

… and where the snow crunches underfoot with each step in the winter woods.

Final Snowshadow

Links

(1) For the lautite specimens at davidkjoyceminerals.com, click here.

(2) For the mineral songs click here (“The Mineral Dealer” is an awesome song for Tucson season.)

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.06.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

 

When I think of Tucson, it’s sunny with blue skies, and the temperature is pleasantly warm (for any Canadian in January!), with cool nights. Of course the landscape is generally dry and cacti thrive, while the riverbeds are free of water.

I’ve seen a bit of weather variety in Tucson, but in all the years I’ve been attending the Tucson show, I’ve never seen it like it was in the early days of Tucson 2015.

Tucson2015(1)

It was reported in the news that at the height of the storm days, 12 cm of rain had fallen on Tucson in 24 hours. (My Canadian brain pictures precipitation amounts better when expressed as an amount of snow – and with the most commonly used average rain:snow ratio of 1:10, that would have been 120 cm, or approximately 4 ft, of snow).

Tucson2015(3)

Courtyard flooding, with no dry spot to step

Tucson2015(2)Roads flooded in many places

The riverbeds and floodways around Tucson did their job admirably, while drains efficiently kept the underpasses clear. For the most part, difficulties arose where properties were not graded and older roads were not properly crowned or had fallen into disrepair. However, even the flooded zone on Main remained passable by car, and as for the passageways around ungraded areas at the mineral shows… we all managed. (It would have been hard to make it through the storm days with dry feet, but when you’re searching for minerals, who notices these things?)

Tucson2015(4)

Hmmn. Wet feet inevitable.

Tucson2015(6)

At the Riverpark Inn, makeshift walkways and stepping stones were set up to make it possible to get around

Tucson2015(5)

Sandbags were ultimately used to protect several vendors’ rooms at the Inn Suites*

(*Like “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince”, to mineral people, this is thought of  as “The Hotel Formerly Known as the Inn Suites”, and referred to by most of us simply as the “Inn Suites” for short. Technically it is now named the “Hotel Tucson City Center InnSuites Conference Suite Resort” but you can see why none of us call it that.)

Tucson2015(7)

Anyone who likes to lick agates or oil their specimens was saved all the trouble if they simply stayed outdoors, where vendors’ flats quickly  filled with water. (This one held its own, but things got ugly when it came to cardboard flats and paper towel…)

So with that colourful backdrop, Tucson 2015 unfolded as Tucson always does, at all the various locations around the city.  And there were great minerals to be found this year.

Starting with something new and unusual, some excellent specimens of anhydrite and probertite were found in a pocket at the Kohnstein Quarry, Niedersachswerfen, Nordhausen, Harz, Thuringia, Germany. The anhydrite crystals are amazing – euhedral, very pale lilac, translucent to transparent. I am told that although they are encountered at this locality once in a while, this is only the third time in the last 30 years, so it is not a common occurrence! Probertite is a relatively rare borate mineral that occurs as transparent, colourless, heavily striated, lustrous crystals (it is certainly rare in crystals such as were found in this pocket). I picked only a small number of specimens from this find, the best I saw, from what was a fairly small lot (it was not a large find).

Anhydrite CrystalAnhydrite, Kohnstein Quarry, Niedersachswerfen, Nordhausen, Harz, Thuringia, Germany – 2.1 cm crystal

Probertite Crystal

Probertite, Kohnstein Quarry, Niedersachswerfen, Nordhausen, Harz, Thuringia, Germany – 2.5 cm crystal

Moving a long way south… to South Africa, a very small pocket at the N’Chwaning II Mine produced a handful of exquisite small specimens of inesite, very sharp and intricate, and in superb condition. I was lucky to have the first chance at these and, again with this pocket, selected out only a few specimens, the ones I judged to be the best.

Inesite crystals

 Inesite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 3.7 cm

Democratic Republic of the Congo is almost always producing mineral specimens of interest, and this year I was struck by the new lot of cobaltoan dolomites from the Katanga Copper Crescent. When I say “struck”, you’ll see why – some of the colour is just amazing.

Cobaltoan Dolomite, Katanga, CongoDolomite, var. Cobaltoan Dolomite, with minor Malachite, Katanga Copper Crescent, Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 8.5 cm

Only a few things of interest from China – not much new with the vendors I visited. (Very few of the new plumbogummite pseudomorphs after pyromorphite – it seems these had been snapped up.)  There were aggregates of new dark green fluorite in mounds, but I wasn’t that keen on them and the prices were silly. From one vendor I did manage to pick up a couple of nice specimens from the 2014 pocket of blue fluorite on quartz from Huanggang. Since they debuted in Denver, most of these have been astronomical, damaged, and commonly both (!), so it was great to find these. The specimen below is comprised of two main quartz crystals (both have their upper terminations intact), coated with a secondary phase of small opaque white quartz crystals and finally the deep blue fluorite is crystallized on top.

Blue Fluorite crystal specimen Huanggang, Inner Mongolia, ChinaFluorite on Quartz, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China – 12.3 cm

With another Chinese seller who had really nice things and was a true pleasure to talk to… I’m told that there have been no big recent finds at the  Daoping Mine, the famous pyromorphite locality, but there was a pyromorphite from a recent very small pocket that caught my eye, both for its overall aesthetics and also because the crystals are not hoppered – they have pyramidal faces at the terminations, unlike so many from the locality.  Neat!

Pyromorphite crystal specimen, Daoping, ChinaPyromorphite, Daoping Mine, Gongcheng Co., Guilin Prefecture, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China – 6.2 cm

From Russia, there are still new things from Dal’negorsk, both from new production and older collections within Russia trickling onto the international market. From new production, a pocket at the Nikolaevskiy Mine has produced a small number of very cool calcite specimens. I don’t know how it happened, but in the same pocket and at the same time, calcite crystals were forming in both scalenohedral and discoidal forms, sometimes on the same crystal. These are delicate and sadly almost all I saw were damaged, but I found three excellent ones.

Calcite, Dal'negorsk, RussiaCalcite, Nikolaevskiy Mine, Dal’negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia – 5.6 cm

In central Asia, dioptase from Altyn-Tyube, Kazakhstan, is the farthest thing possible from a “new” find. Yet, the current specimen mining at this locality is producing new material, and although almost all is contacted (due to the nature of the deposit, the vugs and seams are very narrow), a few top specimens are just super. (It would be hard not to love nice dioptase!)

Dioptase, Altyn-Tyube, KazakhstanDioptase, Altyn-Tyube Deposit, Kirghiz Steppes, Karagandy Province, Kazakhstan – 6.0 cm

Happily, Morocco’s Golden Age of mineral specimen production is continuing. Who knows how long it will all last, but it’s great right now. Some well-known localities are providing virtually no specimens (there is nothing from Imiter) and then localities like the Agoudal Mine at Bou Azzer (known lately for the cobaltoan calcites), Mibladen, and others, are well-represented. The find of red quartz at Tourash, near Tinijdad, Meknes-Tafilalet Region, turns out to have been a rather large haul. At Ste. Marie I had been led to believe that this was a limited find and one Moroccan dealer had almost all of them. Well, if that’s true, he had sure diversified by Tucson – they could be seen with many vendors all over town! The vast majority are badly damaged, and even the better ones also usually have slightly abraded tips. One can only wonder how great a find this could have been, had more of it been collected without damage.

The recent find of beautiful golden barites from Bou Nahas that first came out during Ste Marie 2014 seems to have been fairly limited – there are really not many of these around (and most are damaged). John Veevaert observed that some look almost faden-like, even if they may not be, and I think that’s an excellent description. Very beautiful specimens.

Barite crystal specimen, Bou Nahas, Morocco Barite, Bou Nahas, Oumjrane mining area, Alnif, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 5.6 cm

From the Western Hemisphere, there were a couple of things worth noting.

From Peru, we know the Mundo Nuevo Mine primarily for its famous hubnerites, quartz, fluorite, and more recently for producing some fine augelite specimens and a few scheelites with bright yellow-green fine grained coatings of stolzite (a few of these were at the show this year). A new find at Mundo Nuevo has produced excellent share, lustrous tetrahedrite specimens with intricate crystallization patterns.

Tetrahedrite crystal specimen, Mundo Nuevo Mine, PeruTetrahedrite, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, La Libertad Dept., Peru – 6.0 cm

And from the celebrated Milpillas Mine in Mexico, some new brochantite specimens with a different crystallization habit – the brochantites we’ve seen in the past have been delicate and fibrous, while these have more substantial crystals. They are gorgeous deep green brochantite!

Brochantite crystal specimen, Milpillas Mine, MexicoBrochantite, Milpillas Mine, Cuitaca, Mun. de Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico – 5.8 cm

A final mineral note. Something I have not seen before and I’m told is very recent – a small number of specimens of yellow danburite crystals from the Koksha Valley, Afghanistan, are interesting both for their mid-depth yellow colour and their association with elbaite crystals. The pieces I saw were miniatures and had four-figure price tags – they were a pleasure to view, anyway.

As my time at Tucson 2015 drew to a close, sunny weather returned and Tucson felt normal again.

PalmsThe palms standing guard over mineral paradise at the Inn Suites

A bit of contrast with home…

RoadHome

Near Bancroft – the last stretch of the drive home from Toronto

Although, like Tucson, winter is truly a gorgeous time of year here too, when the sun is shining… life is great when the sun is out!

WinterHome

And so, until next Tucson, I will remember it as I always do – sunny, blue skies, and amazing minerals.